From the beginning, Eben M. Boynton was responsible for inventing the Bicycle Railroad. In 1852, Mr. Boynton ran an exhibition of the Bicycle Railroad on a test track from Gravesend to Coney Island in Brooklyn. “The sight of a steam powered locomotive running with one immense driving wheel eight feet in diameter, on a single rail, and kept in an upright position by wheels running on each side of a guide rail above was witnessed by several hundred persons.” One of those spectators was Frederick W. Dunton. Mr. Dunton became acquainted with Mr. Boynton and they thought they saw in this method of travel, great possibilities.” A Fast, speedy way to travel from the city to Long Islands eastern towns and north to Port Jefferson, to the Steamers and Connecticut.” The New York & Brooklyn Suburban Investment Company of which F.W. Dunton in President and George E. Hagerman is secretary & treasurer was formed. Dunton invested his energy on the construction of the railroad while Hagerman operated a large lot selling development in the area of Bellport & East Patchogue.
Mr. Dunton had soon completed a one and a half mile test track, running north to south on a location in East Patchogue. The electric powerhouse was built on the south end of the track by the bay and the track ran north to the central line of the Long Island Railroad. The railroad consisted of heavy, wooden framework with a single rail at the top and bottom. Today, the old right of way is now called South Dunton Avenue.
|In time the experimental car, The Rocket came through from Brooklyn and attracted great crowds as it was moved along South Country Road being pulled by twenty four powerful oxen. The beasts were as much a curiosity as the car itself. In 1894 the trial runs began as dignitaries and VIP’s were invited from all over the Northeast. “The Bicycle car at East Patchogue beginning May 10th will run Thursdays from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon and on Saturdays the time of running will be extended to 7 in the evening. Free stages from Patchogue and Bellport depots to the Bicycle Road are run on the arrival of the trains.”|
Work had begun on the first twenty miles of track when problems begun to plague the operation. Austin Corbin, president of the Long Island Railroad and Frederick Dunton’s father in law opposed the rival railroad and blocked its construction. “To extend this road from sound to ocean it will be necessary to cross the property of the Long Island Railroad. Every effort will be made to prevent such a crossing, without which Mr. Dunton’s pet scheme, so far as crossing Long Island is concerned, will not be realized."
("The Rocket" on the experimental track in Patchogue.)
Ultimately the system failed. The cost of the enterprise was estimated to be $1.6 million. They never made it. The promoters are just names now. Hagerman, a small lovely community and Dunton, a road in East Patchogue. Even in failure these men should be remembered as visionaries who helped shape Long Island into what it is today. Bygone Long Island continues to search for remains of this venture….
All the Historic Maps and Photos here are from the Smithtown Public Library’s Special Collection. Used with permission.
Copyright 2008 BygoneLI.com
Copyright 2008 BygoneLI.com